The Stringed instruments normally form the largest section in
an orchestra. It is made up from two families of instruments the
Violin family and the Guitar family. They both tend to be made
out of wood unless an electric version is bought. The Violin family
contains the Violins, Violas, Cellos and Double Bass whereas the
guitar family consists of the Acoustic guitar, Bass Guitar and Electric Guitar.
The Violin family
displays curved wooden features, has four strings stretched
over a wooden bridge and can either
be played with a bow consisting of many strands of horsehair
or plucked using your fingers.
The Guitar Family is again generally made from wood (unless it
is electric) and played with 6 or 12 strings, 6 being the most
common.They are either plucked using a plectrum or fingers or strummed
using your fingers.
The Violin is the smallest of the stringed instruments and as
a result of its smaller strings has the highest sound. In an orchestra
there are more violins than any other instrument and they fall
into two groups, the first violins have the highest sound the second
violins have the second highest sound. They are played with part
of the body being held under the chin and the neck of the instrument
being held by the left hand which is used to select the notes by
placing fingers on the strings. The bow is held in between the
fingers on the right hand. A lot of practice is required to make
them sound good as there can be a great deal of screeching to start
The Viola is the next in size and looks very similar
to the violin and because it has longer strings it therefore
produces a lower sound . It is played in a similar way
to a violin.
The Cello or Violincello, It's proper name comes in a range of
sizes. This instrument is larger than the violin and viola and
therefore the player has to sit down to play it with it being held
between the player's knees. A bow again constructed using horsehair
can then be drawn across the strings to provide a very mellow sound.
The strings can also be plucked using your fingers. For a younger
child the cello can be rather large to carry around.
The Double Bass
The Double bass is the largest of all the stringed instruments
and therefore plays the lowest notes. A player will tend to play
this instrument by plucking the strings whilst standing up.
The Guitar is a popular instrument for beginners and is in made
standard, junior and left handed versions (the strings are the
opposite way around for left handed players).The Acoustic Guitar
has a curved wooden body with six strings, which are played by
plucking or strumming them. A Bass Guitar is similar but only has
four strings. Although the Acoustic Guitar is ideal for younger
children to learn on, as they grow older, some will carry on to
play classical, spanish or folk music on them whereas other children
may prefer the Electric Guitar to play rock and pop music on.
To find out more about learning how to play these instruments visit the Starting to Learn section of our site.
Information on maintenance or repairs is available in the Maintenance and Tuning section of our site.